Monday, February 5th 2018 marked the commencement of five hectic, consecutive days for thousands of professionals in the gambling industry; ICE Totally Gaming followed by the London Affiliate Conference, both taking place at ExCeL London.
The first day of what CalvinAyre.com has coined “London Conference Week” serves as the calm before the storm as ICE’s gigantic expo floor has yet to open. ICE Vox opened its doors today, however, Clarion’s paid-for education program attached to ICE Totally Gaming, a deep-dive into critical issues the land-based and online industry is facing today.
“ICE Exhibition doesn’t open until tomorrow but we have already kicked off with ICE Vox which is a series of conferences that we offer throughout the three days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday”, shared Ewa Baken of Clarion Events.
“So today we had two conferences, International Casino Conference and World Regulatory Briefing and around 200 people are already here learning, networking. I think with the keynote from the departing CEO of the UK Gambling Commission, that really set the tone and the scene for the conversation around the conferences and the seminars as well to follow on Tuesday and Wednesday”, she added.
Baken described ICE Vox as a series of conferences that are well-crafted and developed by Clarion’s internal team, examining business critical issues such as AI, Blockchain, sports betting in the US, expansion into new markets, data science, machine learning and so on.
ICE Totally Gaming’s free-to-attend seminars will focus on niche topics ranging from diversity to a seminar on Italy, a seminar on affiliate businesses and the changing landscape of affiliates, tribal gaming and more.
“There is a really huge educational offering of both paid for and for free here at ICE across the ICE Vox and ICE Seminars”, Baken said.
World Regulatory Briefing (WrB) Day 1 featured a “Future Tech and Regulations” roundtable session, including groups focused on Responsible Gambling Tech, Blockchain and Crypto-Currency, eSPorts and Skill-Based Gaming. At the end of a thirty minute or so discussion at each table, key points were shared with the audience by moderators. Some of the points are as follows:
Skill Gaming: There is no set definition of skill gaming, if there is no social aspect to the game, it won’t succeed.
eSports: Self-regulation vs. regulation? Sport or not a sport?
Responsible Gambling Tech: Use of data and how that will play out, how to use data to potentially build credibility with consumers, what we might learn from other industries, fear of failure and what the regulatory impact or the impact on the consumer would be if you get it wrong.
Blockchain and cypto: In 2 to 3 years, will the technology be mainstream in gaming businesses?
Juan Espinosa Garcia, Ministry of Finance and Civil Service, moderated the Blockchain and crypto table on behalf of Spain’s gaming regulator.
“We think [Blockchain] is a very promising technology or backbone for the gaming systems and such platforms. There are some inherent advantages of Blockchain that can be really interesting for the sector, the industry in terms of reputation, so transparency, how randomness can be guaranteed”, he said.
“We as regulators still need someone to deal with- an operator to deal with. The moment people start to think of Blockchain as a way to get around the regulator, we don’t quite see it that way, we’re not so comfortable with this stance, so we’ll see what happens”, he said.
The International Casino Conference featured a “dream panel” covering regulatory challenges and M&A, including industry heavy-weights such as Jim Allen of Hard Rock and Gavin Isaacs of Scientific Games.
Both Allen and Isaacs agreed that the US regulators have “calmed down” in the past five or so years when it comes to grey markets and licensees who wish to acquire a company with a history in the grey market…now its possible to sit down with the regulator and talk about such issues.
“The regulatory environment is changing”, said Allen.
Isaacs when on to add that Scientific Games has over 300 licenses in America and confirmed regulators have a more “pragmatic view” today than in years before.
When it comes to ICE Totally Gaming specifically, Isaacs told CalvinAyre.com he appreciates the display of innovation, especially for those companies who are licensed in highly regulated jurisdictions.
“Shows like this are very important because they showcase different areas of opportunity, innovation. A lot of what you see isn’t maybe approvable in many, many jurisdictions, but in some where you can try things, you can see whether things work, get feedback, and you can see some of the more cutting edge innovation that sometimes the regulated markets don’t get for quite a while”, he shared.